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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Monsoonal Heat is on

Haboob rolling into Phoenix.
Photo by NWS/NOAA
It’s 5:30 in the morning and multiple screens are lit up green, yellow, red and magenta with swirling radar images. Voices all around me are engaged in discussion about moisture and heat predictions.  An amazing video of prior monsoon storms is playing on another screen.

I’m in the Phoenix office of the National Weather Service (NWS) where they provide weather data, including forecasts and warnings to the public. And even though it’s not yet 6 a.m., people here, at least, are hard at work.

Governor Doug Ducey proclaimed June 14 to 19 as Monsoon Awareness Week, and I’m at the NWS office to do a few media interviews about monsoon hazards and the importance of preparing before an emergency or disaster occurs.

The big question is “how much rain are we going to get?’” Meteorologists will tell you that the projected monsoon outlook is a difficult one to predict as it’s hard to say when and where storms will develop. Add in the uncertainty of El Nino, and it becomes tougher to predict storms.

“When we look into the summer, we are getting mixed signals. We will get rain, flash flooding and lightning at some point. But we don’t know how much of anything will happen yet,” said Paul Iniguez, NWS Phoenix Science and Operations Officer.

“What we are sure of is that in the near future we will deal with really hot temperatures.  The heat is the deadliest weather phenomenon we deal with in Arizona. Year after year, it’s the heat that truly affects people,” Iniguez added.

This week, the first Excessive Heat Watch  and Warning was issued by the NWS. An excessive heat watch is issued when temperatures are expected to be above 105. An excessive heat warning is issued when three or more consecutive days are expected to reach higher than 105.  For parts of Arizona this week, very hot temperatures of 110 to 115 degrees are possible. These temperatures can have serious health impacts on individuals.

The Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) has tips on staying safe during the extremely hot summer months.

While we are waiting for the storms to arrive, it is a good idea to take some steps now to prepare for the potential monsoon dangers.

Write a family communication and evacuation plan. Practice the plan with your family so everyone  knows where to go if you do have to evacuate.

Build an emergency supplies kit for your house and a smaller one for your vehicle with the necessities  you need to survive on your own.

Pay attention to the weather forecast. Know where it floods in your area. Visit Flood Smart to see if you  live in a flood prone area and talk to your insurance agent about flood coverage.

 Visit AzEIN for more information on monsoon preparedness

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